We do more than just “clean sore foot” – Staff Nurse

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Nurses in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and around the globe celebrated International Nurses Day on Tuesday (May 12).

Two Staff Nurses of the SVG Nurses Association joined Tha WakeUp Call on XtremeFM to share what it’s like being a nurse.

Staff Nurse Alexander Ross, Secretary of the association educated that International Nurses Day is celebrated globally in recognition of the “Mother of nursing”, Florence Nightingale.

“She was very influential in where we are now. Today is her birthday. If she was alive, she would have been 200 years old. That is why this year is the year of the nurses and the midwives, so its a big momentous time for us as nurses and midwives,” Ross informed.

“…We’re coming from way back,” the nurse continued, “we’re coming from untrained, unrespected or uneducated back then, when persons used to just go into the homes and just help people, to a more professional status. We are now trained professionally. We go to school for a certain amount of years and we are trained to do what we do now.”

Responding to a question about how important the role of a nurse is in today’s society, Staff Nurse Kennyatta Williams expressed that it is very important, though nurses do not get due respect.

“It is a very important role. We have come a long way professionally as nurses, and you know sometimes we don’t really get the respect but its very important.”

Williams, the association’s PRO, expressed that nurses do more than “cleaning sore feet”, as some may perceive that that is all the job entails.

“We do more than just “clean sore foot” as most people say. It encompasses a lot of stuff, we’re counselors, we’re teachers, we have to be parents to children… even adults.”

Williams stressed that the public needs to be more informed of the detailed role of a nurse.

“We do a lot more stuff than just dress somebody. The public needs to be more aware of what we do.”

The nurses noted that there is a social responsibility attached to nursing, as well as the obvious health aspect.

“We’re basically there when you’re born, and basically there when you leave and everywhere in between,” Ross observed.

Though the job brings joy, the nurses shared that it can become overwhelming at times.

Ross, noted that her position as a midwife presents “mostly happy times”.

“When you have a good delivery, everyone’s happy and they go home with their bouncing baby. But there are times when the pregnancy doesn’t go as well, and then you feel that pain that the parent or parents and family is feeling… and you’re human, sometimes you shed a tear too.”

For Williams, who is placed at the Mental Health Centre, the job sometimes gets hard.

“Sometimes it gets hard working there. Sometimes you see people come, they leave, come, they leave, they come back,” Williams said, indicating that some patients are readmitted to the facility due to reoccurring incidents.

He shared that this can often lead to nurses questioning themselves as to what more they could have done.

“I know sometimes you question yourself as a nurse, “what more can I do, what am I doing?”

Williams ended by highlighting the greatest joy of his job… the words “Thank You”.

“I’ve worked in different areas, its hard and its joyful.”

Williams continued, “when you treat a patient, you sit down with that patient and you realize their getting better and that patient comes and says ‘thank you’. They realize that you treated them well and they come back and say thank you, that’s the most joyful thing for me.”